Researchers excited by fresh signs SIRT1 can treat Alzheimer's

GlaxoSmithKline has been investing heavily in its SIRT1 program, convinced that the gene could play a big role in treating ailments linked with aging. Now investigators at the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease in San Francisco say that SIRT1 could play a key role in halting the development of a toxic brand of protein tau, a prime suspect in Alzheimer's.

"This is definitely the first step toward finding new strategies to reduce tau," the institute's Li Gan tells Reuters. Investigators are already aware that Alzheimer's patients have low levels of SIRT1. Now new therapies that correct that imbalance could have a shot at treating one of the most perplexing diseases on the planet. And Gan's team was able to do just that with an experimental chemical.

"We think by modulating this pathway, we will be able to lower the pathogenic form of tau," Gan explains.

Gan's research is building on other researchers' work on SIRT1 and Alzheimer's. Last July, a team at MIT reported they had nailed down solid evidence from an animal study that the "longevity gene" could fight Alzheimer's. GSK's subsidiary Sirtris has been developing synthetic sirtuins to do the work of SIRT1. But its researchers still face some very high hurdles.

- here's the story from Reuters